Newest charter school gets OK

Austen Thibault, The Union Democrat

The Foothill Leadership Academy, the county's newest charter school, has now moved past all required county authorization to open next year.

The academy will be a public and tuition-free charter school, emphasizing leadership and use of the arts in learning other subjects.

It will open in August 2014 with an anticipated enrollment of 80 to 95 students, grades K-6, proponents said.

An agreement between the academy and the Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Office was presented Monday evening at the county Board of Education's monthly meeting.

Completion of the agreement was a condition of the school's charter in mid-September by the county Board of Education.

It was required to satisfy legal and financial concerns brought up by the county Superintendent of Schools Joe Silva and his staff - which actually recommended denying the charter because of the concerns.

Wording was not sufficient in the charter petition to show that the academy would take care of its own special-education requirements financially, according to Silva.

Soulsbyville School District also denied the charter on the same grounds when it was petitioned earlier.

But now, the superintendent's office has signed the agreement in satisfaction, leaving the school with no more county authorization barriers.

The agreement, called a "memorandum of understanding," clearly defines the responsibility of the academy to provide its own special education and releases the Superintendent's Office of legal and financial responsibility - besides typical distribution of state funds.

"A lot of it was boilerplate stuff," Silva said, adding that lawyers on both sides have approved the document now.

In regard to finance, the academy was recently awarded $375,000 from the Public Charter School Grant Program, according to the academy's founder, Emily McVey.

McVey also said a facility to hold the school in is being secured, which is slated to be final in December.

The academy's first fundraiser will also be held in December. A "Christmas Crooner" benefit concert will be held Dec. ed/gl14. No details are being publicized yet.

The Union Democrat
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